Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I came dangerously close to meeting Rhett Miller last Thursday night. But alas, it wasn't in the stars. As proof of my true devotion to the Old 97's, I braved a trip to Seaside Heights, the land of 24 hour parking meters and frozen custards, to an oddly placed gig at the Green Room. I orchestrated a clean getaway from work and arriived just before their set. Mouse and RAZ were already on the scene. We scoped out an elevated spot near the bar and the sound man. Now, I should not be giving out all my secrets but it's Tuesday and I'm feeling generous. Sound men are your friends, people. A few kind words, a compliment on his tattoo or what have you and you've guaranteed yourself a copy of the set list that hasn't had beer poured on it and maybe some inside scoop on the band. I must confess to having an unhealthy relationship with Rhett Miller's The Instigator album. I often play it on the way to work, much too often really, with the sun roof open, feeling warm and fuzzy and hopelessly romantic. If my life were a music video, Rhett Miller's disembodied head would float through my sun roof and croon "Come Around" into my ear as I navigate six lanes of traffic. But enough about my rich, fantasy life. Dare I say, I imagined they would be better live? Rhett is so slight, I could certainly crack him like a wishbone in a fit of passion. He dips his knees and flails about in a weird way. The sound of the room sucks, so perhaps the problem was the room. Or maybe not standing front row center as I normally do took away some of the rush. Don't get me wrong. It was a good, long set touching upon many of my favorite songs. Rhett came out and did an acoustic set from The Instigator material before the encore set. He played everything up tempo. I wanted to savor having him sing these songs in the same room I was standing in but he was in a hurry. After the set, RAZ went out to feed my meter and the Mouse and I approached guitarist, Ken Bethea, with photos Mouse had taken of the band in '99 in Seattle. I asked him to sign the set list, my new friend, the sound man, graciously handed over to me. Ken, chatted with us in his charming East Texas drawl about how his formative years were mirrored by the film, Dazed and Confused, whose director, Richard Linklater, grew up in the same area he did. The Texan hunk, Matthew McConaughey, hails from 40 miles further. Everything was going fine until Ken turned to Mouse and drawled, "You have a crazy accent." Seriously, that is the pot calling the kettle black as my Grams would say. I don't let anyone mess with my Mouse and told him his accent was pretty crazy, too. At that point, Murray Hammond came over and we talked to him for a few minutes while he signed my set list and looked at Cynde's photos. He is very charismatic and cool, sort of all angular and gesturing from the elbows when he speaks. He excused himself to go "take a look at the ocean." (To read what he did next, you'll have to refer to RAZ's account because he got locked out of the club after he fed the meter, so he got to see Murray outside. At this point, Rhett was no where to be seen. Mouse was antsy to leave. I decided it may not be meant to be for me to meet Rhett at this juncture. Sometimes, you meet someone you really dig from afar and they go and mess up your terrific imaginary version of themselves with the real life one. I really dig my imaginary Rhett, so why mess with a good thing. I decided to spin around three times slow, if Rhett wasn't in sight by then, we would jet. I spun. We jetted. Saturday brought the highly anticipated Siren Fest at Coney Island. I know this event is being blogged ad naseum, so I will only give my highlights. * Scored a free magazine from the good people at KEXP Seattle, the best radio station on the planet * Ate a cantaloupe/lime ricky Italian ice that was the real deal at Ralphie's * Witnessed an amazing act of kindness when I a girl gave up her cute sunhat that totally rounded out her black and white ensemble to a younger girl that was having some sort of heat stroke and had fallen at her feet-give it up for that super cool, now hatless sister * Spotted Zach Shipps of Electric Six standing on the corner of Surf and Stillwell chatting on his cell phone looking like an urban jungle gym that should be climbed asap but I restrained myself and kept moving towards the main stage to catch TV on the Radio set * Har Mar Superstar told us, in case you don't know, �"I'm the new shit." Yes, baby boy you are. I bet you are getting mad action after kicking those sick dance moves in the direction of the ladies * No trip to Coney Island is complete without a stop at Nathan's. Ours came with a rainstorm and what is sexier than eating a hot dog in the rain, I ask you? * Watched a fabulous old, sunburned crossdresser dance with a feather boa at Ruby'ss while I waited to use the loo * Made it to the railing for Death Cab for Cutie's encore "Transatlanticism" which brought me close to tears. That song breaks me. Or maybe it was standing in that crowd for five hours to get to that point.


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